A Turkish Yearbook – Being a Foodie in rural Turkey

Meatballs - shhh they're pork!

I love food, I really really love food, (hey, these hips don’t lie!) and since moving full time to Turkey I have rediscovered my love of cooking and sidelined my love of perusing menus.

For a British girl used to an endless choice of cuisines Turkey long term can be a bit tedious on the food front. Despite Turkish cuisine being touted as one of the four great cuisines of the world there are only so many mezes you can eat before you realise samphire is actually quite boring and as far as I’m concerned Iskender kebab looks like someone ran over a racoon (a week ago) and I don’t find that tempting.

It isn’t that I don’t like Turkish food, in the main I do, I just get a bit bored with it. Convenience foods don’t exist here and takeaways are something that you can maybe get in town but it’s just not worth popping out for a takeaway anything if to get it home you have to negotiate twenty minutes of really crap mountain road where you play dodge the pothole whilst avoiding the oncoming dolmus, at the same time balancing a leaky take out carton and with a sheer drop of 200 feet on your right hand side. Takes all the fun out of the chemical high of monosodium glutamate!

So for the last two years every time I fancied something other than kofte tost I had to learn to cook it and find the ingredients to make it. From tempura chicken to crumpets, from smooth chicken liver pate to robust layered terrines, from cheese bread to scones it was back to basics and back to cooking. Hell I even comfit duck legs now and I can get four meals out a simple roast chicken!

From Granitas to Sorbets to amazing salads, so much you can do with a melon

And you know what, I really like it. I like that food has seasons here, I like that nothing is frozen, I like that I have a store cupboard of actual ingredients not a store cupboard of twenty varieties of ragu and an elderly bottle of super hot sauce. I like that I have to exercise my brain to produce a diet that is interesting, varied and doesn’t break the bank.

So I’ve decided on this blog to write much more about what I cook here and how we eat here and how much it costs and how to make the most of the seasonal food when it turns up on the market stalls. From the just in season pleasure of the first cauliflower to the regular tomato gluts I’m going to try and chronicle a year of feeding your face in Aegean Turkey. I’m going to call it A Turkish Yearbook and tag the entries that have recipes and hints and tips for living a pragmatic foodie life here.

One of the many spice stalls at Selcuk Market

For the record, I am not a domestic goddess in the current mode, I don’t pout at peaches and I don’t fondle phallic veg in a remotely sexual way. I don’t get turned on by brulee (well not much) and if I ever flirted with a fillet of fish I’d shoot myself. Food is nice, it’s yummy, cooking it cheers me up or calms me down. It makes me happy, not horny. So don’t expect any Nigella lasciviousness (God did you see her piece in the Daily Mail today? – the accompanying photos were dire!) or, Sophia Dahl skittishness and whimsy, and if I ever refer to my kitchen as “my ramshackle sanctuary” I’ll never write another word, I promise!

The new season grapes, 3tl for 2 kilos, wonderful!